Boris Johnson queries questioning from Sky’s Beth Rigby
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The bounce saw Labour’s stronghold of Hartlepool elect its first Tory MP, as a blue wave gave the party a majority of almost 7,000 in the town. Conservatives seized control of councils across the country and the jubilant Prime Minister said: “People want a party and a Government that is focused on them, focused on delivering change.” Mr Johnson said Leave-backing Hartlepool had given his Government the thumbs-up for securing a successful departure from the EU. He declared the
result “a mandate for us to continue to deliver for not just the people of Hartlepool, not just for the people of the North-east, but across the whole of the country”.
As Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer admitted his party had “lost its connection” to voters, a huge hole was knocked in its Red Wall with a big win for the Tories in the Tees Valley mayor race.
Rising star Ben Houchen was re-elected on a landslide of three-quarters of the poll, giving the Tories two parts of their target “hat-trick” of electoral successes.
Party sources last night had high hopes they would also retain the West Midlands mayor’s seat when the result is called today.
Across the country Conservaties took councils in Northumberland, Harlow, Redditch, Dudley plus Nuneaton and Bedworth.
Celebrating in Hartlepool yesterday, the Prime Minister said voters now wanted the benefits of freedom from Brussels and to go from “jabs to jobs”.
As a giant inflatable Boris loomed over delighted supporters, Mr Johnson said: “If there was a lesson out of this whole election campaign…across the whole of the UK, it’s that the public want politicians to get on with focusing on their needs and their priorities.
“Coming through the pandemic, and making sure that we then build back better – and you can see some of the evidence of economic confidence that the Bank of England’s been talking about, the prospect of a really strong rebound in the second half of the year. People want us to focus on that.
“This is a place that voted for Brexit, and we got Brexit done.”
Mr Johnson said the UK could regain control of its borders and take action independently of the EU, such as rolling out Covid vaccines and blocking football’s breakaway European Super League.
He added: “We’re able to do things a bit differently when it’s come to the vaccine rollout that’s been so important, and able to deliver that faster than other European countries. So it’s about delivery. It’s about getting on. That’s the mandate that the people have given us.
“This election shows people want a party and a Government that is focused on them, focused on delivering change.” Mr Johnson said voters were attracted to Government plans for the North-east including a “freeport” enterprise zone across Teesside and a new Treasury campus at Darlington.
High-wage, high-skilled jobs were benefitting the region through the local manufacture of wind turbines in the Government’s “green industrial revolution”, he said.
“People understand that, they can see that and those are the kinds of jobs that not only pay well, they have high skills.” Mr Johnson emphasised again that voters had rewarded his Government for achieving his Brexit promise.
“They can see we did. They can see that we delivered. What people want us to do now is to get on with delivering on everything else.
“Number one is continuing the vaccine rollout, making sure that we go from jabs, jabs, jabs, to jobs, jobs, jobs. Make sure that we have a strong economic recovery, but then get on with the massive project for this country…and that is uniting and levelling up.
“There is genius and talent and enthusiasm and flair and imagination everywhere in the country but opportunity is not evenly distributed. That’s what we’re trying to change.”
Mr Johnson congratulated Jill Mortimer, Hartlepool’s first Tory and first female MP:“She’s been a wonderful candidate and fought very, very hard for every vote, I think she’ll be a wonderful MP.
There was a 16 percent swing from Labour as she was backed by 15,529 votes – a majority of 6,940 over Dr Paul Williams.
The North Yorkshire farmer and councillor said she was “immensely proud to be the first Conservative MP in Hartlepool.
“It is a truly historic result and a momentous day.
“Labour have taken people in Hartlepool for granted for too long. I heard this time and time again on the doorstep. The people have spoken. It is time for change.”
Ms Mortimer added: “People voted for that positive change of jobs and investment, and that is exactly what I’m going to deliver.”
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her SNP was on track to return to power but claimed that an outright majority was a “very, very long shot”.
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